What does customer intimacy feel like? Many people don’t know because they’ve never experienced it, whether they’re sitting in the buyer’s or the seller’s seat. An intimate customer relationship is based on alignment, understanding, and deep connection.
If your business involves complex sales, you need to be recruiting intimacy-driven salespeople capable of meeting your customers where they are and loving the opportunity to do it. These are the relationship builders you need to grow your company, and yet you don’t see “driven by intimacy” listed as a desired trait on many job descriptions. The concept of what it means to be intimate with your customers is an issue across industries and businesses, and yet it seems to have gone missing from consideration when it comes to both culture and recruiting.
Great salespeople have a number of traits in common. We all know most of them: good listeners, organized and prepared, ask good questions, okay with silence, comfortable talking about money, and impeccable at follow-up, among others. But the thing that makes customers “feel” truly understood in an intimate way is when your company culture matches theirs.
Although we might think otherwise, healthcare provides an example of what this means. After all, there is no more intimate relationship than the one between doctors and patients. In a recent discussion with one of our prospective customers, he shared that customer intimacy is a critical issue in the healthcare industry and for companies selling into that market. He suggests that “intimacy” means speaking the industry language where doctors are “providers” to their patients. It means understanding how mission driven your customers are and adjusting your message to reflect your “why” for serving them. And it means making sure your culture supports your people in a way that sustains the intimacy of the relationship.
No matter the industry, your specific mission and culture are unique, which means you need to recruit and retain people who fit with your organization in all of its aspects. They are worth many times over what it may take to find and keep them. They are your “right” people and there are ways to discover who and where they are.
In terms of recruitment, your strategy should involve developing an ongoing pipeline of likely candidates and using every tool available to screen for culture and components important to your industry and clients. When it comes to culture, there is much to think about. Keeping great people involves respect, fairness, opportunity to grow, flexibility, transparency, common purpose, and so much more. Communicate with your people continuously, get their feedback, and act on it. Leadership communication is even more important during extraordinary times like battling Covid-19 and throughout every phase of recovery.
Make “intimacy-driven” your most important requirement for sales and creating intimacy in your workplace your priority. It will flow out into the market through your people, resulting in long-lasting, profitable relationships that both your salespeople and customers will feel and value.